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November 01, 2005

"Far across the Chattahoochee, along the Upatoi, stands our loyal alma mater, Benning School for Boys."

Though there are a lot of girls here now, too.

Random thoughts as I get settled in here for the next two weeks.

When you've been a collector long enough, you get emails like this:

John, Spent the day with a collector from Louisiana, he's up here getting parts for his 155mm Long Tom. Says he also has a Pack 75, 57mm anti tank gun and a early war 37mm. And some WWI stuff. But where can you shoot them? He was full of stories...... thought I'd pass that on. Scott

That's why I'm the Armorer... people tell me stuff. And ask questions. You just *wish* you got emails like this. And now I know another guy I can swap tales, and parts, with.

Delta Airlines. I got upgraded to First Class yesterday (corporate travel perk, ticket was coach fare). Throughout the whole process of check-in, boarding, and flight, I was treated worse, in terms of human interaction, than any of the discount-fare airlines. Nothing overt, nothing nasty, and I doubt they saw it - all I know is, from the pilot who took out on the screener his frustration at having to take his shoes off, to the distant way I was treated by the remaining staff - I would rather fly Southwest, Continental, Frontier, than fly Delta again. It struck me as I was schlepping myself through the interminable terminal that is Hartsfield - the last airline that I had this same feeling and vibe from the employees? TWA. And this is a trend - not the TWA thing, but the grumpy Delta employees. And that's cutting them slack for obviously they are under stress due to the bankruptcy filing. But, for the record - I had that feeling about Delta (and American) long before they ever filed for bankruptcy. Which is why we have a lot of free tickets on Southwest these days, and a Companion Pass.

Just sayin'.

Columbus, Georgia is doing a lot of work revitalizing their downtown riverfront area. There are still pockets of misery in this town, but every time I've visited, things have (to outside eyes at least) seemed better every time. I especially like the way they are saving their classic industrial architecture (the mills on the river) and turning them into retail and office spaces. There is a great antique store in one of them, should I ever get SWWBO down this way. Now if only Alabama could get some of that action going for the city across the bridges - Phenix City. Mebbe if they changed the spelling of the name, it would rise from the forlorn ruins that are their side of the river.

Fort Benning. This place is looking better, too. And the troops seem to be in fine fettle. Sat around being as inconspicuous non-officerlike as it's possible for me to be (kinda like Orson Welles at an Anorexics Anonymous meeting, I'm sure) and just nursed the laptop, soda, or later beer, and listened. These kids are sharp, and they are paying attention. And while no one who has been over into a sandbox is anxious to go back - they *are* anxious that the job get done, and done right. And they think they are doing a pretty good job. They have respect for jihadis who will stand and deliver, but little more than bemused contempt for the suicide bombers who go after civilians. They don't like the ones that attack them, mind you - but they *don't* like the ones who go after the civilians. The ones who have an opinion have a mixed opinion on the Iraqi government, especially the police. But the general consensus was that they were improving. They were past Mayberry, but not up to NYPD Blue. Mind you, this was a very limited sample of troops.

But they *do* admire the civilians who take the risks and do so every day to try to make a better world for their children - even as the jihadis try to kill them.

I'm looking forward to walking among the young soldiers again, and listening to their stories. Both the ones who still dream of glory, and those who know that all fame is fleeting, and glory is hogwash - but covering your buddies ass in a firefight is, well, sublime.

Lastly there is this - Ry, it will get you fired. A full moon over Russia.

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What? You seein' things *other* than a nicely preserved T-34/76?